What Is The Best Whiskey Cocktail? - Exclusive Survey

People have been drinking whiskey for centuries. The word itself comes from the Celtic "usquebaugh," which is rooted in the Latin "aqua vitae," and, according to Brittanica, means "water of life." The first written record of whisky (spelled in the Scottish variation without an "e") dates back to Scotland in 1494. Though often associated with Scotch and Irish culture, the spirit is immensely popular in the U.S., and American whiskey has become a category of its own. According to The Spirits Business, the U.S. whiskey market was worth over $10 billion between November 2020 and November 2021. For Americans, domestic whiskey is the most popular, followed by Canadian, Irish, Scotch, and Japanese options.

While some whiskey drinkers prefer the spirit neat or with a few ice cubes, we wondered what kind of whiskey cocktail was preferred by Tasting Table readers. We offered five choices: Old Fashioned, New York Sour, Whiskey Sour, Manhattan, and the Classic Mint Julep. Five hundred and eighty-eight of you responded, letting us know which was your favorite. So, which drink came out on top?

The race for favorite whiskey cocktail showed stiff competition

The top-ranking drink is the Whiskey Sour, which earned roughly 32% of the votes. While some cocktails require fancy bartender tricks and precise measurements, the Whiskey Sour is easy to recreate, even for a novice. A simple combination of bourbon, lemon juice, and simple syrup, the beverage balances sweet, woody whiskey with lively lemony acidity and a bit of sugar. What's not to love?

And the Old Fashioned finished just a jigger behind the Whiskey Sour, earning about 31% of the vote and proving that you can't go wrong with a classic cocktail. The Old Fashioned can be made with either bourbon or rye whiskey, which is balanced with bitters, muddled with a bit of sugar, and finished with a zing of oil from twisted orange zest. The Manhattan, a traditional combination of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters, rounds out the top three cocktails, with 18% of the votes. The Classic Mint Julep, a refreshing blend of bourbon, fresh muddled mint, and simple syrup that's notorious at the Kentucky Derby, brought in 13% of votes, and the New York Sour, which floats a little red wine atop a classic Whiskey Sour, came in last with about 7% of votes.